Wednesday, August 22, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Po Lin Monastery

On my initial visit to Lantau Island I noticed a cable car going up a mountain. On further investigation I learned that it took people to visit Po Lin Monastery and the large bronze Buddha. My friends and I decided to visit it. The cable car is a fantastic ride. The only drawback was waiting two hours in line to get on. The wait was worth it though.
Po Lin Monastery is a Buddhist monastery, located on Ngong Ping Plateau, on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. The monastery was founded in 1906. The main temple houses three bronze statues of the Buddha – representing his past, present and future lives – as well as many Buddhist Scriptures. When I went inside I was surprised to find that people were taking pictures inside the Monastery. I have been to many temples in China and taking photographs is always forbidden. However, I could not find a sign here indicating not to take pictures. Feeling a bit guilty about doing the wrong thing I took a few pictures anyway. It was a rare opportunity that was unlikely to happen again. Here is a photo of the three Buddhas at the main alter.
Buddhist Statues in Po Lin Monastery

There is also a large Buddha associated with the monastery. The Tian Tan Buddha statue that was completed in 1993. It is 112 feet tall and weighs 280 tons. When you are on the cable car ride you can see it from miles away.  There are 268 steps to climb up to the Buddha. We didn't do that though. The temperature of Hong Kong in August was around 90+ degrees with 80% humidity and we were hot enough already.

The Tian Tan Buddha statue

Tian Tan Buddha from Ngong Ping Village

People walk up 268 stairs to go up to the Buddha

Note: If you are going to see Po Lin Monastery it is well worth the extra money to ride in the Crystal 360 Gondola with glass floors. It not only gives a better view but you get shifted to a different line that gets you on the gondola much faster. It saves you at least another hour of waiting in line for the less expensive regular gondola. The gondola ride is worth the wait though. It is over 5 km in length and you get spectacular views.

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